We live about 20km (15 miles) due West of the
coast at Napier on the central East coast of New
Zealand’s North Island, in a world famous wine
-growing region called Hawke’s Bay - roughly
where the red dot is on this handy ‘recent
earthquakes’ map (which predates the
Christchurch quake) ...
ZL sits astride the junction of two tectonic plates
and hence has some fabulous volcanoes, active
geothermal areas and, as you can see, numerous
earthquakes. The city and port of Napier was
devastated by a massive quake in 1931 and
almost totally rebuilt in the extant art deco style,
much of which has survived until today. A
similarly powerful quake occurred in July 2009
just off South Island, moving ZL about 30 cms
closer to VK. In 2010/2011, huge quakes in
Christchurch caused death and destruction.
You can easily make out three major SW/NE fault
lines running through North Island on the map,
while South Island is basically a mountain range
thrown up by the colliding plates.
Our latitude 39o30’22” (=39.5061o) South by
longitude 176o38’48” (=176.6466o
) East puts us
in Maidenhead locator square
Here’s the satellite image of our place on Google Earth:
We live in the clearing that looks a bit like a giant telephone handset in the forest. The white spots
in the clearing are the house and shed. The strip going SSW is a 10kV overhead power line. The
other clearing SE of us is a rural landing strip used occasionally by brave/crazy crop dusters.
We are perched on a N/S ridge. It’s not very obvious from the photo but the paddock SE of the
house (the phone mouthpiece) drops steeply away at about 45 degrees. It’s impossible to walk
straight up or down without clinging on to a fence or a passing sheep.
Here’s our home viewed from the air to the East at about mid-day, with the sun to the North:
Here’s another view of our house, “Castle Peak”, photographed with a telephoto lens from a little
hill way across the valley to the SE ...
20 acres leaves plenty of space for antennas, though I could really have done with that passing
helicopter to put some strong lines over the tall old pine trees behind the property. The tower in
the photo is 12m high so I estimate the trees to be about 25-30m (~100 feet) high.
The old fixed tower was not quite as bent as it appears in this shot! I’m currently in the process of
replacing it with a new tiltover tower.
This hilltop QTH has a “good views”, meaning low-angle takeoff in all directions. We can see the
clear blue Pacific ocean in Hawke’s Bay about 20 km/15 miles to our East.
The great circle map centred on Castle Peak was drawn by a cool freeware program from SM3GSJ
modified list of prefixes, trimmed down to leave just a few common and readable ones:
Our antipodes is central EA so EA appears right around the periphery of the map and it doesn’t
seem to matter much which way I beam. The short path to EU flies right over JA and tends to be
dominated by JAs, so LP openings to EU can be more productive for DX, although sometimes I
enjoy working JA pileups as well.
The red circle on the great circle map above shows the edge of our hemisphere: everything outside
the circle is on the Far Side of the Earth from us. This dramatic image from a satellite directly over
my QTH shows what I mean:
Oh boy, look at all that blue ocean! There are very few hams on our side of the globe apart from
ZL, VK, YB, DU, KH6, the Southern tip of CE and LU, a few frozen souls in the Antarctic research
stations and JA disappearing over the edge. The Americas and Asia are 10-15,000 km away while
Europe and Africa are 15-20,000 km away, out of sight on the Far Side. Few of those tiny little
specks of land in the Pacific have active hams. In other words, almost all of our QSOs qualify as
DX. This makes it tough going for Oceania hams to reach the top of various DX leagues, the CQ
DX Marathon or the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll, but it doesn’t stop us trying!
Finally, we are usually somewhat north of the Southern auroral zone but sigs from a Southerly
direction are often fluttery and weak.